This Government is committed to leaving the EU on 31 October. And make no mistake, ensuring every business in the country is primed and fully ready for Brexit is a key priority.
The whole of government has stepped up a gear and increased the pace of our preparations as we get ready to leave on 31 October. You do not have to be a supporter of Brexit to acknowledge that there is a pressing need to ensure businesses are ready.
I’ve been meeting businesses of all shapes and sizes across the country over the past few months, to discuss both the opportunities and concerns facing them. I recently met with ICAEW’s very own Michael Izza, where we discussed the accountancy sector’s vital role as a source of trusted advice and expert support for businesses big and small.
I was impressed by the level of preparedness in this sector and I am writing this with one key message: this government stands ready to support you and your clients and provide clear information and actions to ensure a smooth transition on 31 October. We want to support the accountancy sector in any way we can, hence why we’ve developed bespoke online guidance to ensure all accountants are prepared for Brexit.
We know that while many large businesses are well prepared, it is the smaller ones we need to reach to make sure they too are getting ready. We know they listen to you, with around 60% of SMEs saying their accountant influences their business decisions. So please help us get the message out by directing your clients to our online business Brexit guidance.
In addition to the support available online, businesses have told us that they also want more face to face support – so we are putting on 30 free events spanning the UK over five weeks for businesses to come and get practical advice, with advisers from a range of government departments on hand at each event. Please do urge your clients to search “Brexit Business Readiness Event” to register to attend for free.
We have also made £10m available to business groups and professional bodies – like the ICAEW – to help them to help businesses prepare for Brexit through our Business Readiness Fund.
I know that some of your clients will have concerns about access to finance at this time, so I am delighted that ICAEW has agreed to sit on our new Business Finance Council. Co-chaired by the Business Secretary and the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, it will be made up of senior representatives from the UK’s leading banks, alternative lenders and business groups. Its aim will be to identify and address any barriers faced by SMEs in securing the finance they need, particularly working capital and finance for investment – something that I know will be of great interest to your clients.
We are putting every resource in place to ensure businesses are not only well prepared for Brexit, but well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise after we have left the EU.
Working together, I am convinced that Brexit can herald new growth and prosperity for the UK. It is a real opportunity to forge an outward looking, free trading, entrepreneurial and creative United Kingdom.
Further advice and information to help chartered accountants prepare for Brexit is available on ICAEW’s Brexit hub